Don Pierce

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A well respected recorded company director and producer in the country music world.
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Artist Biography by

b. Don Picht, 10 October 1915, Ballard, Washington, USA, d. 3 April 2005, Tennessee, USA. Although destined to become a very respected record company director and producer, Pierce had no interest in music throughout his school years or his military service in World War II. During these years, golf held a great attraction and his interest in music came only after he became friendly with Hoagy Carmichael. In 1947, he risked his $12, 000 savings by investing in the new 4 Star Record Company and (probably to help to safeguard his money at an uncertain time for the label) he also worked as a salesman. He became friendly with country singer T. Texas Tyler and began to take an active part in the production of some of the singer’s very successful recordings.

In October 1953, Pierce profitably sold his 4 Star interest and, apparently for $333, purchased a third share in the recently formed Starday label, of Jack Starnes Jnr. and Pappy Daily, and its connected Starrite Publishing. Two years later, Starnes left and Pierce became co-owner of the label. A shrewd businessman, with an eye for a hit record and many contacts from his 4 Star days, Pierce soon attracted attention to Starday with George Jones’ recording of ‘Why Baby Why’. For five years Starday, while maintaining all copyrights, operated an agreement with Mercury Records, but in 1958, the agreement ended and Daily and Pierce parted amicably.

Pierce, by then the actual owner of the label, moved to Nashville to relaunch Starday. He found immediate success with hit recordings by several artists, including Red Sovine and Cowboy Copas. During the 60s, after also turning his attention to bluegrass music, Flatt And Scruggs, Jim Eanes, Bill Clifton, Carl Story and the Stanley Brothers were some of the stars of that genre to record successfully for Starday. Realizing that the major labels were ignoring the public demand for recordings by old-time artists who were still active, he also recorded Sam And Kirk McGee, Lew Childre and the Blue Sky Boys. Pierce organized mail-order supplies and also caused some controversy by reissuing early recordings of some of the top stars of the day. There were complaints by some artists that such action was not in their best interests. In 1968, when his friend Sydney Nathan of King Records died, he made arrangements to merge the two labels. In 1969, realizing that he was fighting a losing battle against the major labels, he sold Starday to LIN Broadcasting, a wise move, as, within two years, the label went into liquidation and changed hands.

Pierce, who later went into the real estate business, was a founder member of the Country Music Association. His love of golf saw him become a founder of the Pro-Celebrity Tournament, which raises money for needy Nashville causes, and he also initiated his Golden Eagle Master Achievement Award (the eagle was Starday’s motif), which is presented at the annual Reunion Of Professional Entertainers.